For Singapore archbishop, from education to health case, Catholics have built the nation’s future
Singapore (AsiaNews) – As Pope Francis pointed out in a homily at Domus Sanctae Marthae, "politics", according to the social doctrine of the Church, is "one of the highest forms of charity" because it is in "the service of the common good,” said Mgr William Goh Seng Chye, in a pastoral message to the faithful.
He writes that the world and society are "arenas for Catholics to express their faith in action, and evangelise in accordance with Gospel values”. For him, it is a “Christian duty” to take part in “the work of nation-building.”
In the pastoral letter published on the archdiocese’s website, the prelate goes further, noting that "the Church has been an instrument and architect in Singapore’s development."
In various areas, Catholics have been present and active, from education to health. Through centres and institutions, they have contributed to the nation’s rise, turning it into a driving force in the world.
"Even more important, the Church has helped shape the morals and values of our society,” Mgr Goh explained.
Recently, the nation was shaken by the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, who died on 23 March at the age of 91. Buddhist monks, Catholic nuns, the disabled, immigrants and young people who learnt about the Asian tiger’s strongman in textbooks were among those who paid tribute to the late prime minister.
Now Singapore is run by his son, Lee Hsien Loong, who now wears his father's mantle, running a country caught between rapid export-driven economic growth and deep social divisions, challenged by a flat birth rate and immigration.
Addressing the faithful at a crucial time for the country’s future, the archbishop of Singapore said that "Christians have a moral responsibility to be good citizens."
As Catholics, he added, we have the task of "building the Kingdom of God on earth, and developing this nation we call home."
Although Catholics are a minority, they can contribute to society’s "moral progress" by spreading the “good virtues of charity and compassion" and promoting Gospel values such as "respect for life, integrity, justice, equality, and harmony". We must not split, he warned, "faith from daily life".
Finally, the prelate had harsh words for those who are idle towards people in need, who criticise leaders, institutions, and governments but do nothing to help improve the situation for “family, community, country and the world."
In Singapore Catholics number more than 200,000, or about 5 per cent of the total population. Buddhism has the largest following with 33 per cent; Christianity follows with 18 per cent. Islam is next with 15 per cent, with Taoism and Hinduism with 11 and 5 per cent respectively.
Currently, the local Church is going through a phase of growth. A real "milestone" for the local community and a sign of its dynamism was the opening last year of a theological seminary.